We follow the tradition of my mom's family of exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve. The logistics of making that happen require a well-planned and coordinated effort with Santa's staff. First my grandparents, then my mom, and now me, have been making it work for over 75+ years! The practice comes from the German tradition, in fact it used to be that my mom and her siblings never even SAW the decorated tree until Christmas Eve! That would be impossible to pull off these days I think. I certainly wouldn't like to even try it!
As you can see, Maddie was thrilled when she found her haul from Santa!! She had that smile on all evening, even when she was not-so-patiently waiting for her "turn" to open a gift!
I loved all my gifts as I always do, but there was one that became my instant favorite! This lovely linen guest towel was picked out by Maddie, herself, and it shows how well she already knows her Grammy!! In case you can't read it, it says "Its hard to be a Diamond in a Rhinestone world." It makes me laugh everytime I read it. What a hoot! The kid definitely has a sense of humor! I'll keep it forever!
Now the tree was, as I said, decorated and lit, but when it came time to put on the garland and the stars we use instead of tinsel, everyone said they preferred it without further adornment so they could actually see the ornaments. That may be somewhat true, but I know that the truth of the matter is that no one wants to help put the garland on because I like it draped just so and its not simple to do. Also, it is not a job for just one person, it requires a "draper" (me) and a "carrier" (anybody I can talk into helping). I was outvoted. So, as you can see above, the tree is a little "underdressed".
Nevertheless, it does allow me to share with you the best story of this Christmas. On our tree we have an enormous number of ornaments (you collect a lot over 44 years!!) Most of them have a story connected to them. For instance, every time I receive a momento of a show I have done, it goes on the tree! (That's why I have a gold bagel on my tree....received from another cast memeber when I played Golda in "Fiddler on the Roof.") Lots of memories and reminders of the people and places we love!
One of my most treasured ornaments belonged to my mother and was always on her tree every year for as long as I can remember. It is an extremely old ornament that she received when she was a little girl!! Originally, she was an ice skater (the ornament, not mom!) but over the years she became more and more bedraggled and lost the skates somewhere. Finally mom did her best to repair and replace the parts of the dress that were falling apart. After mom died, this was the only thing of hers I really wanted for myself. Every year when I place it on the tree, I think of mom and miss her all over again.
The key thing to remember about the little skater is how very old she is. Now we flash forward to this year when Ratchlet and I were out doing our Christmas shopping. We always look at the ornaments and decorations (and usually end up buying some to add to our collections.) When I saw a little doll ornament on display, it gave me chills. She too, had a little porcelain face and her body was made from the same material and same color as the skater's original body!! When Ratchlet saw it she said, "It looks just like Gram's ornament!" When the Big Guy saw it said, "Oh my God!"
Of course, she had to come home with me. Below is a photo of the little Ice Skater (left) and the new little doll (right). Now as you can see the two dolls don't really look that much alike; but they are similar enough to want to keep them together, especially with the photo of mom hanging with them. One is brand new and one is probably nearly 100 years old. I have a feeling they will stay together on Ratchlet or Maddie's tree long into the future as well. So the story will just keep getting better and better. Amazing, don't you think?
So we didn't have chestnuts, or snow, or expensive gifts. What we did have, and will always keep, are more Christmas memories that will last a lifetime and beyond.
"...And so I'm offering this little phrase
to kids from one to ninety-two,
although it's been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you."